Smart World by Richard Ogle

What do jazz musician Dave Brubeck, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Mattel’s Ruth Handler, and architect Frank Gehry all have in common? They are credited with some of the most inventive accomplishments of the past half-century. The classic jazz album Time Out, the iPod, Barbie, and the spectacular Guggenheim Museum are their creations. Yet their creative leaps all came about differently. They each combined their individual imaginative intelligence with unique networks of ideas that lay outside their own minds to achieve real breakthroughs in their fields.

So, not all brilliant innovations originate solely from the minds the individual genius. On the contrary, our world is made up of intelligent networked spaces that, if we navigate them skillfully, can lead us to generate unprecedented ideas. Richard Ogle ( argues that creative breakthroughs are born when individuals and groups access new ‘idea-spaces’ and exploit the principles that govern them. Outlining a new science of ideas, he sets out nine laws including ‘hotspots’, ‘the fit get fitter’, and ‘small-world networks’, that govern idea-spaces.

Ogle illuminates each law with fascinating stories of dramatic breakthroughs in science, business, and art. We learn what sparked Picasso’s creation of the seminal painting that heralded cubism; where Ruth Handler got the idea for Barbie, and why it turned the doll business upside down; how Frank Gehry set the world of architecture on a new path; how ‘supersizing’ portions came about, and why it permanently changed the fast-food industry; why Crick and Watson, two rank outsiders, solved the enigma of DNA when Linus Pauling couldn’t.

Anyone interested in how creative leaps occur, primarily in business, but also in science, technology, and the arts, will value this book. It shows the reader how human imagination, intuition, and insight really operate.

Check if this thought provoking book is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at

320 pages in Harvard Business School Press

First published 2007

ISBN  978-1591394174

Richard Ogle

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